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Paris 6 Like a Local: where to eat, play & stay in Saint Germain and Luxembourg

Paris 6 Like a Local | Saint Germain des Près and Luxembourg Paris Districts | 6th Arrondissement Paris | Paris Travel Inspiration | Paris Bucket List | Paris City Guides | Paris Arrondissement Guide
Paris 6 Like a Local | Saint Germain des Près and Luxembourg Paris Districts | 6th Arrondissement Paris | Paris Travel Inspiration | Paris Bucket List | Paris City Guides | Paris Arrondissement Guide
Paris 6 Like a Local | Saint Germain des Près and Luxembourg Paris Districts | 6th Arrondissement Paris | Paris Travel Inspiration | Paris Bucket List | Paris City Guides | Paris Arrondissement Guide

PARIS ARRONDISSEMENT GUIDE: EXPLORE PARIS 6 LIKE A LOCAL

From the Seine in the north to boulevard de Montmarnasse in the south, the 6th arrondissement of Paris is the chic district of Luxembourg and Saint Germain historic Paris neighborhoods. It is well known for its revolutionary intellectualism, beautiful architecture, cute cafes and antique shops so typical of Paris bobo. This is one of the most emblematic – and (warning!) more expensive – Paris arrondissements.

Plan Arrondissement Paris | 6th Arrondissement

PARIS 6TH ARRONDISSEMENT IN A NUTSHELL

During the Middle Ages, Saint Germain-des-Près was a village outside the Paris city walls. The whole area belonged to the independent Benedictine abbey of Saint Germain, which had its own houses and also stables, chapels, cloisters and prison. Later, other religious congregations (Cordeliers, Carmelites . .) also founded an establishment in Saint-Germain-des-Près.

Paris 6 Like a Local | Church of Saint Germain des Près

In the 17th century, the area was urbanized around the church of Saint-Sulpice and the church of Saint-André des Arts. Queen Marie de Medici bought an estate in the district and built the Palace of Luxembourg (today the seat of the Senate) and its magnificent gardens. The new Palace turned the neighborhood into a fashionable district for French nobility who built beautiful hôtels particuliers in the area.

The Latin Quarter also extended to Saint Germain and many university and cultural centres established in the area, like the National School of Fine Arts or Collège des 5 Nations. Following these educational institutions, many bookshops and publishing houses also opened in Saint Germain, contributing to the district’s  intellectual (and later revolutionary) atmosphere.

During the French Revolution, Saint Germain Abbey was closed down by the revolutionary Assembly and used for gunpowder storage. Unfortunately an explosion in 1794 destroyed most of the buildings and only the monastic church and the Abbey Palace survived.

 

 A NEW GOLDEN AGE FOR SAINT GERMAIN

After the Second World War, Saint Germain became a center of intellectual and cultural life in Paris, with the presence of interesting writers and artists like Marguerite Duras, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, François Truffaut, Picasso, Giacometti and many more. All these cool people liked to wander around Saint Germain and enjoy its particular atmosphere and a good intellectual discussion at Café Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore. At night, philosophers, authors and artists mixed in breweries and smoky nightclubs, where existentialist philosophy coexisted with American jazz. Paris 6 was home of much of the major post-war intellectual and literary movements such as existentialism , surrealism, and modern feminism.

 

THE 6TH ARRONDISSEMENT TODAY

From the beginning of the 70s, the reputation of Saint-Germain-des-Près attracted international tourism, who gradually transformed the neighborhood with their money. Luxury boutiques and art galleries established in Saint Germain and the price of real estate increased considerably, with prohibited prices for locals. Consequently many bookstores and small shops had to close and the headquarters of major publishing houses and universities had to move to other parts of Paris. Today the intellectual prestige of Paris 6 is vanished and Saint Germain has lost its soul forever. However, the beautiful XVIIth century architecture and a couple of iconic sites still remain and Saint Germain is still a nice place to wander.

Open to the public since Napoléon’s reign, Luxembourg Gardens are today amongst the most popular parks in Paris. Luxembourg Gardens are always a nice plan for a sunny day in Paris.

 

TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN PARIS 6

No surprises here: you can find all these Paris Monuments and Paris points of interest on all the guidebooks about Paris so no post talking about the 6th arrondissement would be complete without the top tourist attractions in Paris. If this is your first trip to Paris you will like to visit some of them, they are very touristy but beautiful !

Jardin du Luxembourg

Musée Zadkine

Musée Eugène Delacroix

Church of Saint-Germain-des-Près

Church of Saint Sulpice

Café Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore

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QUIRKY AND UNUSUAL SIGHTS IN PARIS 6

Some of them are part of famous places in Paris. Some of them are Paris best kept secrets. This is our personal list of unusual things to see in Paris 6.

Cour vitrée at Beaux Arts de Paris – stunning neoclassical architecture in the world’s oldest school of arts

Rue de Furstenberg – a nice street /square with a small town feeling

Bibliothèque Mazarine – another piece of paradise in Paris, full of ancient books

Paris’ Meridian lines – at 11 Quai de Conti (vertical Meridian line) and inside Church of Saint Sulpice

The marble Meter Standard –  placed in 1796, it helped Parisians to get used to the new metric system. Only 2 original standards survive. This one is at 36, rue Vaugirard

Monumental Medici Fountain – located at Luxembourg Gardens, shows giant Polyphemus surprising Acis and Galatea

The (unfinished) Virgin of the Smile – rare to find “Vierges Parisiennes” are easily recognizable by their characteristic smile (Vierge au sourire). This one is at Church of Saint Germain

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UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN PARIS 6

On our Paris Arrondissement Guides we like to encourage people to beat the crowds and explore Paris beyond its main sights. Despite being one of the most touristy Paris districts, we like to visit Paris 6 from time to time, especially when the weather is nice. This is our personal list of unique things to do in Paris 6 to enjoy Paris like a local.

Read  Rimbaud’s “Le Bateau Ivre” painted on a wall – Arthur Rimbaud’s most famous poem is at Rue Férou

Sail your mini vintage wooden boat – on the duck pond of Luxembourg Gardens

Test your chess – challenge the locals at Luxembourg Gardens

Explore beautiful inner courtyards in Saint Germain – wander around Saint Germain with no direction and find them by yourself ; -)

What about a haute-pâtisserie tour?  – Treat yourself and wander around Café Pouchkine , Pierre Hermé, Ladurée and Angelina, all with boutiques in Paris 6

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EATING IN PARIS 6 LIKE A LOCAL

Check our proposals (by Paris arrondissements) on Yummy Paris. Affordable restaurants in Paris 6 but also Paris bistros or Paris street food. This is a living page which we are continuously “feeding” with our Parisian friends’ suggestions. Come back to Yummy Paris from time to time to read the newest additions.

  

WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS 6

On “Where to Stay in Paris” section we like to propose our top options in each price bracket for a specific district of Paris. However in the 6th arrondissement of Paris it is really difficult to find quality budget hotels (-100€ /night). That’s why we prefer to give you two Mid Range Hotels instead. These are our picks for Paris 6, hope you will like them! You can also click on the following link to check all the hotel options for Paris 6

NB: The same hotel may be in two different price brackets depending on the kind of room you choose.

Where to Stay in Paris 6 | Luxury Hotel in Saint Germain

RELAIS CHRISTINE – LUXURY HOTEL (200€+ PER NIGHT)

One of the top choices in Paris 6. This hotel is in a 16th-century mansion in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés with unique designed rooms, with different styles. . It has classy common spaces. a garden, a spa and a fitness center.

Check the hotel’s latest offers


Where to Stay in Paris 6 | Best mid range hotels in Paris

CHAPLAIN PARIS RIVE GAUCHE – MID RANGE HOTEL (100-200€ PER NIGHT)

This is one of the best mid range hotels in Paris. Chic and modern hotel located at only few metres from Luxembourg Gardens. Rooms are fancy and colorful. We especially like its chic dinning area and floral courtyard, where you can take your breakfast or a drink.

Check the hotel’s latest offers


Where to Stay in Paris 6 | Best mid range hotels in Paris

HOTEL BAC SAINT GERMAIN – MID RANGE HOTEL (100-200€ PER NIGHT)

This is a very affordable hotel, located in Saint Germain-des-Près, with correct and well equipped rooms. This hotel has a good price and a cool restaurant and panoramic terrace with city views.

Check the hotel’s latest offers


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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    10/19/2017 at 2:33 pm

    Loved reading the details of the the 6th Arrondissement of Paris. I am really fascinated by St. Germains. What a time it must have been when intellectual conversations flowed and the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and Piccaso frequented the area. This area truly seems to represent the spirit of Paris.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/18/2017 at 10:25 pm

      Yes, it must have been a great time for Saint Germain but unfortunately this time and spirit vanished long time ago 🙁

  • Reply
    Mei and Kerstin
    10/17/2017 at 4:37 am

    Ah! Every time we read your posts, we miss Paris like hell! Haha.. the Quartier Latin was where we spent most of our time during the first 6-7 years of our life in Paris. We lived in the 7th arrondissement, but went to the Quartier Latin every day since we studied at Paris 1 and Paris 4, and later worked at several Publishers around Odéon. You’re right to say that the intellectual prestige of the 6e arrondissement is vanished nowadays, but the beautiful façades, some coffeeshops and several bookstores (there are less and less interesting ones unfortunately) still make us return there. Maybe for old time’s sake… so thank you for sharing this post that makes us all nostalgic! 🙂

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      10/19/2017 at 7:50 pm

      You are right, only the beauty stays!

  • Reply
    Beverley
    10/16/2017 at 8:37 pm

    We are planning to head to Paris for 4 days at the end of this month so this great for us to plan where to go other than the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre. What has court our eye in Paris 6 is the Church of Saint Sulpice, as the church has remained the same but the area around it has urbanized.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      10/19/2017 at 7:51 pm

      Unfortunately there are lots of restoration works inside right now so you won’t see it as its best 🙁

  • Reply
    Michelle W
    10/16/2017 at 8:34 pm

    This gives a great background and introduction to this expensive neighborhood, I loved hearing about its history. How unfortunate that a lot of the historical buildings blew up from the gunpowder storage though!! Also it’s a bit sad to think that it has “lost its soul” over the years, but at least it still looks beautiful and lively today. I would love to visit and try to challenge a local to chess at the Luxembourg Gardens too! I went to Paris in 2008 for 4 days, and haven’t been back since. I think now as an adult I would appreciate it more.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      10/19/2017 at 7:53 pm

      Hope you will have the opportunity to visit Paris again! And you are warned: the chess players of Luxembourg are really good!!

  • Reply
    Megan Jerrard
    10/16/2017 at 4:18 am

    Saint Germain has quite the interesting history – very cool to read about how it’s evolved from a quaint village belonging to the abbey, to a cultural hub, and now one of the most chic and expensive centers of Paris. It’s said to hear that it’s lostit’s soul, but I’m glad to know that many of it’s iconic buildings and sites still remain as a testament to it’s history. I would love to sail a mini vintage wooden boat on the duck pond of Luxembourg Gardens, and wander around to take in some of its more historic sites.

    Thanks for the history and tips on where to go in Paris 6.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      10/19/2017 at 7:55 pm

      And thanks for being a faithful reader, Meg! Yes, places like Cafe de Flore are still there: with tourists paying 15€ for a pint they have no intention to leave!

  • Reply
    Lara Dunning
    10/16/2017 at 2:44 am

    Every time I read one of your articles I want to go to Paris even more than before. I would love to visit the Luxembourg Gardens. I also like your list of quirky sights, and I always appreciate hotel suggestions.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      10/19/2017 at 7:56 pm

      So so! Time to same some money and come to see us, I would say . . .

  • Reply
    Fiona Maclean
    10/15/2017 at 4:00 pm

    I think the 6ieme is my favourite district in Paris. I’ve stayed at Relais Christine and a number of other boutique hotels in the 6th and 7th. And I love les deux magot for people watching. Thanks for a summary of one of my favourite parts of Paris

  • Reply
    Christine | The Traveloguer
    10/15/2017 at 12:34 pm

    There’s so much to see in Paris, I love reading these posts to find out about all the wonderful places there are to explore in Paris. I’d love to see the Bibliothèque Mazarine 🙂

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/18/2017 at 10:23 pm

      You would love Bibliothèque Mazarine but please note that unless you are studying very specific subjects it is only open to general public during very special occasions. I visited it during the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine, usually the third weekend of September

  • Reply
    Danik
    10/15/2017 at 10:37 am

    My favourite part of area 6 is strolling around in the Jardin du Luxembourg on a warm sunday afternoon (hopefully when its not too crowded). Havent checked out the Mazarine Library yet, would love to check out those books.

  • Reply
    Carmen Edelson
    10/15/2017 at 5:46 am

    You are my go-to blog for Paris!! I love Saint-Germain, thanks for all the info. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Mike
    10/15/2017 at 3:42 am

    This is such a wonderful guide! Thank you for sharing. The Bibliothèque Mazarine sounds like my kind of place all full of ancient books 🙂

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      10/15/2017 at 9:01 am

      Great that you liked the guide, Mike. Unfortunately Bibliothèque Mazarine is open to “mortals” only in rare occasions. I could visit it during the Journées du Patrimoine this year

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